The Dark Side of Croatia’s Tourism Boom

Motel Trogir

Motel Trogir was designed by Ivo Vitic, one of the most important modernist architects in Yugoslavia. Recently, Vitic’s crumbling motels have been getting some renewed attention.

The Tumblr “Motel Trogir” is part of a project dedicated to studying the architect’s motel work and getting them listed on Croatia’s registry of protected cultural monuments. Natasa Bodrozic and Sasa Simpraga of the Motel Trogir team told Balkanist that they’re currently working with art historians from the University of Rijeka to investigate “the importance and architectural value” of the vacant motels, and once the research phase is complete, “the campaign for their protection” will begin. Bodrozic and Simpraga also say they have a group of architects who will participate by “giving their expert opinion about the state of the buildings and their potentials”.

Built in 1965, Motel Trogir was apparently doing pretty well until the war broke out. Since then, it’s been the subject of an incredible amount of controversy, and numerous legal battles. As a result, the property has suffered serious neglect. For nearly 15 years now, there’s been an ownership dispute involving four different companies and/or individuals. Because the complex case has dragged on for so long and doesn’t look like it will be settled any time soon, it’s unlikely that anyone will be investing. According to Igor Matjas, who is one of the individuals claiming ownership, plenty of investors have shown interest in the motel. It’s centrally located, just 500 meters from Trogir’s historic center. However, Matijas says they’ve all been deterred by the unending legal disputes.

Meanwhile, locals use the abandoned property as a garbage dump and Vitic’s structures, which are some of the only examples of modernist architecture in Trogir, fall deeper into a state of irreversible decay.

Next Page: Hotel Panorama/Motel Sljeme

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Lily Lynch

Lily is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Balkanist Magazine. She lives in Belgrade, Serbia.